One year on from the Spanish victory at the FIFA World Cup 2010, I look back at an article I wrote at the time. Have a read and give me your comments …

At the time of writing this, the party is still in full swing … the passion is alive, Spain is living a dream … as well deserved winners of the FIFA 2010 World Cup.

I intentionally didn’t feature the event in the last issue as I was certain every other publication would do so. However, having followed the Spanish team every step of the way I felt they at least deserved a mention in our little mag. I do not claim to be an expert of the game, merely an observer passing comment on what was a spectacular event.

So, apologies to all you non football lovers, here are some interesting bits and bobs about footie and in particular, why Spain so deserved to win … maybe England could learn from them … actually probably not!

Some General facts:

The Spanish side is often referred to as La Furia Roja (The Red Fury) or La Roja (The Red).

In July 2008 Spain rose to the top of the FIFA World Rankings for the first time in its history, becoming the sixth nation to top this ranking, and the first nation to top the ranking without previously having won the World Cup. Between November 2006 and June 2009 Spain went undefeated for a record tying 35 consecutive matches before their loss to the United States, a record shared with Brazil, including a record 15-game winning streak and thus earning third place in the FIFA Confederations Cup.

The odds of Spain winning the 2010 World Cup were   4 to 1.

They were joint favorites, with Brazil, and were backed by the world’s greatest ever player, Pele, to claim their first championship. Following a flawless qualifying campaign, winning ten out of ten, Spain were the number one team in the FIFA rankings.

This World Cup was a celebration of Firsts:

South Africa were the first African hosts (and what a fabulous job they did too!)

The United States won its group for the first time since 1930.

Spain are the first European country to win the title when the event was held off-continent.

Spain are the first to win after losing their opening game.

Spain are the first European champion to win since West Germany in 1974.

Spain are the first to win after having been humiliated by the Americans a year earlier.

All of Europe’s five FIFA World Cup winners have lifted the Trophy at the end of their first Final, after Spain emulated Italy, Germany, England and France.

32 years after Argentina’s Daniel Bertoni scored the last extra-time goal in a FIFA World Cup Final, Spain’s Andres Iniesta repeated the feat.

The Spanish Success Story:

Its ledger since 2006 is quite astounding — 50 victories, 2 losses, 2 draws. The losses came to the US, by a 2-0 count in last year’s Confederations Cup in South Africa, and to Switzerland in its Cup group opening game. Since that match Spain allowed only one goal (to Chile) and ended the tournament with a streak of 433 scoreless minutes.

What’s an intriguing Spanish tale, of course, is that a man from Madrid (Casillas) saved the match and a man from Barcelona (Iniesta) won it. Proving that despite strong club rivalries, the country comes first!

The victory sees Spain become only the third nation to hold the European and world football crowns at the same time, two years on from their European Championships success in Vienna.

Spain has not always shown such support for their national team. As recently as five years ago the country mocked the national team. Only when Spain began to do well at the European Championships in 2008 did the country show any interest in the national side. Even then it was only come the semi final that the country got excited about their national team.

Having been a Liverpool fan since an earlier age I was disappointed by the performance of Fernando Torres (El Niño). It is obvious that the way the Spanish national team play does not suit El Niño. His continuing frustration comes from the fact that the neat passing game Spain play often leaves him as a spectator. He is much better running on to a distant pass. He is very dangerous picking up a long ball. He has done that for Liverpool so often and so well. But Spain do not play that way. Unfortunately for Torres, he typifies England team players rather than his home side.

So what (in my opinion) are the differences between the English & Spanish teams?

I’m sure some of you will dislike me for saying this but England are light years away from being as good a team as Spain

England has a weak national team for many reasons. The moment the footballing authorities took the Sky money, the domestic game was always going to rule supreme. That money led to clubs importing a plethora of good and bad foreign footballers. Numerous clubs ditched youth teams, reserve teams and their academy. A policy of developing young home grown talent was ditched by many clubs, big and small. That was a big mistake the true cost of which we are only witnessing now.

The obsession with the Premiership and the dominance of the domestic game has been the death knell for the national team. Playing for your country now means little to most of the millionaire footballers who are chosen to wear the three lions shirt.

Sure, the likes of Villa, Iniesta and Xavi are paid well in Spain. The difference is that they have pride. They actually want to play for their national team and they want to play well.

The relationship of the two teams with the press and media is a glaring difference.  Spanish football reporters,  from newspapers, TV and Radio were allowed into team dressing rooms to interview players after a game. The press were on the plane bringing the victorious team back to Madrid.

World Cup Spain in the Plane go Train dance (view YouTube video here)

The main football TV presenters were on the plane celebrating with the players. There is a mutual trust between the players and the press.

In Spain, many players are actual friends with those who write or broadcast about them. The Spanish Capitain is maybe a little bit friendlier than others …

Even the Spanish royal family were televised expressing their elation and   frustrations during the final matches. Reina Sofia even visited the team’s dressing room (with Pujol still dressed only in his towel may we add!)

Queen Sofia visiting the Spanish team\’s dressing room (view YouTube video here)

So that’s my rant over. Be I right or be I wrong .. let us just celebrate the fact that a team that believes in playing football the right way are Champions of both Europe and the World.

The entertainment factor was superb. South Africa did us proud with their ceremonies and organisation of the whole event and the music of Shakira (Waka Waka), K’naan & Bisbal (Waving Flag ) will be with us forever …

The Spanish flags will no doubt continue to wave for a very long time from now and why shouldn’t they.

Here’s to the Spanish passion … for the wonderful game of football and for life in general. This has been one hell of a party

… ¡ Vive España!  ¡ Vive la Roja !

Some Quotes:

Vicente del Bosque, Spain coach :

“This is an unforgettable moment. We have to congratulate our rivals because they made it very difficult for us. The Final was all about attacking football and both sides tried to play the game the way it should be played. There’s a great sense of happiness in the dressing room right now. It’s hard to put it all into words and the way the players feel goes way beyond words. The satisfaction people feel goes way beyond sport and this is a reward that’s richly deserved. I’d like to thank the Spain fans for all their support. They’re enjoying this as much as the players.”

Andres Iniesta, Spain midfielder

“It’s hard to put into words how it feels to win a World Cup. To win it that way was amazing. It didn`t come easy and I still can’t believe it. I’m just happy I managed to do my bit and score such an important goal for the national side. It’s a game to remember and to celebrate. All we want to do now is go home and enjoy it.”

Sergio Busquets, Spain midfielder

“We’ve been waiting a whole life for this. All I can think about are my family and friends, the people who couldn’t make it here. This is for them. We’ve got better as the tournament’s gone on and though the first game didn’t go our way we managed to turn it around after that. There were times today when we weren’t ourselves but we managed to get the win in the end. I still can’t believe it.”

By Lisa Sadleir




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